Doing What You Love (Not Necessarily for Pay)

“Do what you love; you’ll be better at it. It sounds pretty simple, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t get this one right away.”– LL Cool J

Okay, “do what you love” is all over Instagram (my favorite social media) and the internet. It sounds great, doesn’t it? But, I think when most of us read it, myself included, we jump to the conclusion of loving our jobs and careers. And that’s when this whole sentiment becomes difficult.

All of a sudden, this doing what you love thing becomes a trap. Those of us who are just scraping by, and not necessarily loving our jobs feel left out. Yeah, it sounds great, but some of us are just paying the rent and staying even (at best) with bills. In the midst of the Great Recession, there were tons of stories about people leaving their jobs and starting up small businesses. Often, the detail left out was the fact that these people had cushy severance packages, and lots of savings. I don’t begrudge those folks. It’s awesome for people to take the reins, no matter the circumstances, to steer their lives in a positive direction. There have been articles written that this attitude is very classist, aimed at the upper echelons, leaving the rest of us behind. Leaving the rest of us behind, not only financially, but in desires and love. I happen to love my current job, but it’s not necessarily going to be my career. I think it’s important for us to look at our whole lives, not just our jobs.

What are the things you love? What do you love to do? Take a deep hard look at them. Is there a way you can turn this into something that makes you money? If it is, and you started making money from it, would you still love doing it?

Take a pause. Take a glass or mug or cup of your favorite beverage: tea, water, coffee, lemonade, wine, tequila, a cold beer, Dr. Pepper. Whatever. Take a piece of paper, the back of a receipt, a scrap, a sacred page from your journal, an envelope from the recycling, whatever. Sit down with your beverage and write down the things you love to do. The actions. Write down all the things. The little things. The things that take a long time. All the things. Write them down. Maybe you’ll be able to write them down in a five-minute spurt. Maybe it will take you a week to write down everything, in multiple sittings. Remember it doesn’t necessarily have to be your talents or the things you’re good at doing. Think about love. What comes to mind?

Here’s part of my list, if you need inspiration.

Running, writing, taking pictures, sitting on the patio in the dark (early in the morning or late in the evening), making dinner, folding laundry, giving massages, teaching, learning (writing, yoga, reiki, photography, Spanish), drinking wine in a wine glass, scrolling through Instagram, playing board games, brewing hot tea, reading books, washing dishes, knitting, meditating for five minutes, looking at pictures of my great niece, making lists, memorizing poems, listening to birds, planting things, composting with worms, swimming laps, writing letters, getting personal mail (cards and letters), visiting a church or synagogue or other religious space, drinking coffee, meeting up with close friends, having company sleep over/spend the weekend, watching a favorite movie, taking a road trip, soaking in hot springs, dancing with a partner, writing in a journal, being in a library, browsing in a book store, watching sandhill cranes, singing in the shower, dancing in the car, shopping for vintage (used) clothes and shoes, going to the farmers’ market, eating chocolate, updating my resume, praying, lighting candles, burning incense and sage, looking at the stars, identifying star constellations, appreciating black and white photography, looking through cookbooks, having a fun conversation with a stranger, riding mass transit (train or bus), cooking new recipes, talking about spirituality, reading long form journalism, going to a live concert, attending a reading, watching a play, finding my way through a labyrinth, paying off a debt, visiting a new place, traveling, taking a long weekend, waking up in a tent, camping, dumping the recycling in a bin, dropping a bag off for donation, listening to the waves, kneading bread dough, spelling words out loud, telling long incongruous stories, enjoying long phone calls with friends, going to museums, grocery shopping, wearing dresses, hiking, dreaming about travel, talking with my mom, visiting with my sisters, catching up with good friends, petting and making friends with dogs, cheering people on, loving myself.

There are so many things. So many things I love doing. And there are so many things not included in the paragraph above.

There are so many things that you love. Keep that list handy. It might not pay off professionally, but what if you made time, even five minutes daily for something that you love to do, wouldn’t your life be more inspiring, fulfilling?

If you are doing what you love, even a little bit, then you are loving your days. Take the time, make the time, give yourself the space. Take time for what you love, and then do it.

We all need more time for love, for ourselves, for our lives, for others.


  1. Perfunctory activities can be among those things we love in addition to those special events we plan for ourselves. Your list is thorough. Observing the rise of the morning star and sitting on the back porch in the evening and speaking to family and friends are two of the favorite activities I love. Enjoyed reading this blog.

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